Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Let's face it, we're all takers. It's what we all do the best. It doesn't make us bad people. It actually makes us better, if we do it well. We take from here or there. We claim all of the good stuff offered up by those who love us - for a long time or for the shortest amount of time we could ever imagine being loved. There are no refunds when you make yourself open to another. You might tell yourself that you're giving of it, but more so it's like there's a piece of thread at the bottom of your shirt that you point out to that person. It's that weakened seam that you feel it's only fair to make known. It's your idea of sharing, of making yourself properly vulnerable because that's just supposed to be how it's done. You're expecting that they'll do the very same thing and you'll be even - giving of everything you've collected, scars and all, over the course of your life. You've amassed all of these complexities and all of these markings that need detailed annotations to explain. So, you point out that string, knowing that if it gets pulled, a whole bunch of shit is going to come undone, but you do it and you just hope that they don't fleece you. You're trusted them to only take so much, but to leave a bunch of it for you to keep hoarding away for other days.
When you listen to Justin Kinkel-Schuster and his band, Water Liars, it's evident that the identification of the takers from the givers has never been less clear. If we're honest with ourselves, aren't we most often than not where we fall on the old meter? Most everything we do is for self-serving purposes, but some of it just looks a lot better to others. We seek love and companionship largely in a self-serving way, and still, it tends to come off so well in the eyes of others. It's when it all gets very tough or bumpy that the proper perspective can be had.
The latest Water Liars album, the absolutely brilliant, "Wyoming," is another collection of folks living impoverished American lives, going from one rough patch to another, all the while believing that they're better at giving than they are at getting, but they're having the damnedest time figuring out how to show it. They find themselves in these beer and whiskey-soaked nights where they're making little headway and they're strung out on distance and separation and the most painful kinds of memories - the good ones that you can never get back. When Kinkel-Schuster sings:
"What I would give to be quiet beside you.
With the window open, a record playing low.
To feel your skin between clean bed linens.
Inside a room where sadness never goes," we get that it's over, that he's singing to a phantom that he took from, even if he might explain it, as he does in the album's title track, that he lost them drop-by-drop.
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